Featured Artists

The Denver Chalk Art Festival features more than 200 professional, amateur and student artists from around the country—with a majority being from Colorado. A professional chalk artist is known as a Madonnari and they are the featured artists at our festival. In Italy, street painters would often reproduce images of the Madonna (St. Mary) on the street for tips. They became known as artists of the Madonna or Madonnari.

Our 2018 Featured Artists 

Chris Carlson

Chris Carlson is a 3-D chalk artist from Denver, Colorado. He discovered chalk art in 2012 and has been dedicated to the medium ever since. Chris has always been fascinated by optical illusions and trompe l’oeil paintings. He likes to incorporate these elements into his work, blurring the line between where the art ends and the street begins.

Stephen DeOrio

SHOT 6/6/15 1:45:19 PM - The Denver Chalk Art Festival is a free two day street painting event heald on Larimer Square in downtown Denver, Co. National and local artists turn Larimer Square's streets into a museum of chalk art. (Photo by Marc Piscotty / © 2015)

Stephen DeOrio, a Denver-based artist, is a first-time featured artist who has participated in La Piazza since its inception in 2003, when he picked up his first award of Best Reproduction of a Master Work. He has since won the People’s Choice Award in 2005, 2006 and 2007. DeOrio owns Gold Crown Studio, a decorative painting business in Denver which specializes in the design and application of murals, historic paint restoration, architectural painting, and faux and bravura finishes.

Mark Hollenbeck

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Mark Hollenbeck is a featured artist that started his street painting adventures at La Piazza in 2004.  He has won the Best of Show as voted by his peer artists in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Hollenbeck, who grew up in Buena Vista, Colo., has been teaching Art and Bible at Denver Lutheran High School the past 13 years. Hollenbeck favors composing his own artwork for this show, but also enjoys reproducing the great paintings of art history.  He hopes to add some Italian words like “Semplici” and “Qualificato” or “Maestro” to his credentials one day.

Julie Kirk

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Julie Kirk joins La Piazza from Chino, Calif. where she resides and works as an art professor at California State University Fullerton and Irvine Valley College.  Kirk has been street painting for 14 years and has been a featured artist at chalk art festivals throughout the United States and Europe.  She has worked with numerous corporate clients as well as managing an internationally known website devoted to street painting, www.streetpainting.net. In 2003, she placed first in the category of “Semplici” at the International Street Painting Competition in Italy.

Dawn Morrison Wagner

Dawn Morrison Wagner created her first street painting back in 1988 at the I Madonnari festival in Santa Barbara, CA and immediately fell in love with the classical art form.  Well over 100 festivals later, she has been featured around the country, won many awards, and her chalk art has been used in commercial and promotional work.  Dawn’s street art has evolved from specializing in classic reproductions, such as pieces that honor the art form’s Italian origins as well as her ancestry, to contemporary perspective pieces that utilize the 3-dimensional relationship between the viewer and the pavement.  Like many of her Renaissance idols, Dawn has spent her life combining Art and Science.  She completed an Art Minor while pursuing her Physics and Engineering degrees, and continued to travel to festivals while working in the Aerospace and Semiconductor industries.  Dawn enjoys sharing her love of the medium with other artists through chalk art workshops, organizing festivals for school children, and with the audience that comes to watch her pieces emerge from the pavement.

She has participated in more than 50 street painting festivals nationwide, primarily choosing subjects from the Italian Renaissance to keep with the fundamental spirit of the art and to honor her Italian ancestry.

Website: www.madonnara.com